Back to School Tortoise

Lucy M George

Happy New Year Everyone!

Every time I share this story the audience LOVES the ending! An awesome book to share on the first day of school with colleagues and students.


The story is about a tortoise who is afraid of going back to school. The tortoise is being brave and resilient, with a surprise at the end!

Click here to view the story

Real Thing:

Investigate, observe, draw, feel and create a tortoise.

Check out the ideas at this blog!

Sensory Tray:

Collect objects and present them on a tray so the students can use the five senses to gain an understanding of the story.


Picture match with the objects in the text such as the objects on the breakfast table.

Explore the mathematics about breakfast:

  • What time of the day is it?
  • What do you do before and after?
  • How many things do you eat?
  • What is your favourite breakfast food?
  • How much does your breakfast cost?

Make an alphabet book related to the story or your first day/week at school. Did you include mathematical terms?

Words around us:

Match the words from the text to environmental print in the classroom.

Add words from the story to the classroom word wall. Use the words in your writing.

Count words:

Rewrite a sentence/s from the story for the students to count the words. The students put a counter on each word.

We are going on a T hunt:

Tortoise begins with ‘t’! Provide each student with a letter ‘t’ attached to an icy pole stick. Search for the letter in the classroom, in books or in students’ names.


What’s in the box?

Inside the box is a tortoise mask. What animal do you think is in the box? The animal is the main character in our story. Read the factual clues to help you make a prediction.

If you would like these clues for this learning experience send me a request via email:

Do the book:

Act out being the tortoise wearing your school bag.

Using a clothes basket move like a tortoise.

Create a sound scape for the story. This involves the students using musical instruments or everyday items to create sound effects for pages in the book.

Picture Retell:

Retell the story by sequencing the images.


Excite your students about the text using a tortoise puppet. The students can retell the text aloud using the puppet.


Text to self-connections:

When have you been brave? How did you feel? What helped you?


Text to self connections:

How do you feel about returning to school? What advice would you give Mr Tortoise?

Text to text connections:

Was the tortoise brave in this story? What was the same in the two stories? What is different? Do you know another story that had a brave character?

View the story – click here

Check out this book on Booktopia

Innovate the text:

What would be a different ending to this story?

What other animals could be in the story? How would it change the story?

Can you rewrite the story as you as the main character?

What could be a different setting, problem, and resolution for Mr Tortoise?


Launch your 100 days of School count! Begin with a display of ten empty tens frames. Add an adhesive dot each day!

Create a survey to find out everyone’s favourite lunch at school. Graph the results.

Research the differences between a tortoise and turtle. How will you share this information?


Have a great start to your school year!


Andrea Hillbrick